We had the good fortune of connecting with Judson Vereen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Judson, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
I think one thing outsiders-especially artists, are oblivious to is the idea of the industry itself. The art world, if that is what we shall call it, is not a world where success is based on talent, expertise or merit of that sort. Like many industries, it is based on networking and not much else. This truth is far from the romance that artists dream about when pursuing their careers at the very start. It is an ugly truth, in all honesty. Many artists will spend decades going to every gallery opening, attending every lecture and gallery walk-through possible in the spirit of “seeing and being seen”- the lifestyle this creates is one far that is far from being an artist in the poetic sense. The bitter truth- the art world can be a quite revolting place where people are constantly using and being used. There was an old saying not long ago among art dealers- “The art world would be perfect if we could only somehow get rid of the artists.” Another maxim is that it is quite a wonderful idea to have a Van Gogh painting in your living room, but to have dear old Vincent sitting on your living room couch is not so wonderful. I think the goal of an artist should be to rid themselves of delusion, and the industry revolving around the arts is full of delusion. Selling paintings and having gallery representation is all fine and good, but one must not get lost in this world.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
One thing that sets me apart from other artists- I refused to step foot into an art school. I dropped out of high school junior year I was ready to start making work, learning from life, etc. I think the academic institutions have a mold- a template, in a sense. This factory-style production of artists is simply unappealing to me. I was fortunate that at an early age I knew what I wanted to be and I was rebellious enough, I suppose, to reject the notion of the classroom artist. I didn’t want to be coached. I wanted to get my hands dirty, make some mistakes. I didn’t want it to be easy I think. I looked at those old photographs of artists in their freezing cold lofts and they were all dirt poor most of the time. When I was young I thought this lifestyle was going to be fun. And I lived it. Through and through. I am still living it to some degree- as I have never been very secure in my life. But when I look back, I was right. Dropping out of school and taking the plunge as an artist has provided me quite an adventurous life and one that I am quite proud and lucky to be able to live. At least that is how I see it. I would be much more successful had I gone to an academy and played the MFA game. But it would not have been worth it. I would have been a completely different person. Of course, this is not for everyone and frankly, I don’t even recommend it. Don’t do what I did. Don’t try my life at home. Go to school, follow the rules. Play it safe, kids.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
You know, Los Angeles has some interesting places and I guess it depends on your friend. I have taken friends to Jumbo’s Clown Room, The Venice Beach Boardwalk. One thing I like to do almost anywhere in California is to go on a drive at night- windows down and just look at the lights and feel the buzz of the city. It doesn’t matter where you take them, does it? My advice- don’t make plans and don’t take advice. Allow yourself the freedom of improvisation. When people travel, especially to LA they can get caught up in all the sites and all the things they think they are supposed to see and do. Don’t fall for it. Get lost. Go hungry. Take a stroll with no money in your pockets. Take big breaths and open your eyes and ears. It is all there waiting for you. You will never see it all, but if you can feel like you are a genuine part of a big moving breathing city, then you can say you’ve been there. You can say you were a part of the magic. This doesn’t require a ticket or a motive, just an open heart. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Throughout my life being an artist I have had many, many influences who I can and must acknowledge. It was Robert Rauschenberg and Willem de Kooning who first made me realize I was going to be an artist. It was familiarizing myself with their work and their struggles that softened the blows of anxiety so often associated with survival. I know I have always kept the works of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, the poet e.e. Cummings around for inspiration. I am quite fond of Clarice Lispector’s “Agua Viva” and anything by Henry Miller. When I found Henry Miller, I found much of myself in many ways. Miller’s work is purely autobiographical- himself and his work are indistinguishable. Picasso is similar in that way. I want to live a life like that. I want to be what I do and do what I am. My father, Henry Vereen, was also a great motivator. He always taught me I could be what I wanted and I believed him. I have a long list of influences. The older I get, the longer the list. I am also intrigued by the chef Marco Pierre White. He speaks about food like a poet. Cooking is similar to painting in some ways. So my influences come from a range of mediums. My favorite brain is probably Christopher Hitchens.

Website: judsonvereen.com

Instagram: judsonvereenart

Linkedin: judson vereen

Twitter: @vereenjudson

Youtube: Judson Vereen

Other: Canvas Graphic Design- a collaborative effort from Judson Vereen and Yasmin França. Canvas Graphic design specializes in Album Covers, Movie posters/Film promotion and book covers for independent musicians, filmmakers and authors. We love to work with artists on their passion projects and we work with all budget ranges.

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